When buying food, we look at the label to make smarter choices. But when it comes to fruits and vegetables, and since they don’t have a label, the choosing becomes a little harder. Well, that little sticker on fruits or vegetables that don’t come in a package has a lot of useful information. It tells you whether they have been conventionally grown, or are organic, or if they have been genetically modified. This is important information if we keep in mind that 7 out of every 10 items in grocery store shelves contain genetically modified ingredients.
The little sticker is called PLU code which stands for Price Look Up Code. These codes have been in use since 1990, and there are over 1300 universal PLU codes assigned. But they all follow some general guidelines, here they are:
- 4 digits and begin with a 3 or a 4: produce is conventionally grown. This means that this produce was been sprayed with weed killers and chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- 5-digits and start with an 8: produce was genetically engineered or genetically modified. This means the produce’s genes were genetically altered to produce bigger, or faster growing, or better looking produces. Needless to say, this process is detrimental to the produce, and very dangerous to your health. Read the 4 tips to avoid GMO to learn more.
- 5-digits and start with a 9: produce was raised organically. These are produces that have not been treated with chemicals and that haven’t been genetically manipulated. These are the safest produces out there.
To me learning the meaning of those codes on the sticker was a great discovery, and I wanted to share this because I would dare to say that most people are not aware of this information.
The PLU system is administered by the International Federation for Produce Standards, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association.
To illustrate the code use, here is an example:
- 3440: Conventionally grown Pomegranate
- 83440: Genetically Modified (GMO) Pomegranate
- 93440: Organically grown Pomegranate
As you can see, the last four number are the same in all three codes. The last four numbers refer to what kind of fruit or vegetable it is.
Now to review and keep in mind, if it starts with an 8, stay away from it, it is man made, or man messed around with to be more precise. These produces benefit only the pocket of the company producing them. Their nutritional value has been altered and very much diminished, and they pose serious health treats to you.
If possible, one should try to eat everything organic. But since this is not always possible for different reasons, it is good to keep in mind which produces are more prone to absorb chemicals and pesticides, and so are recommended to be eaten organic. These produces are called the “dirty dozen”, and are:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Spinach, kale and collard greens
When buying those produces, try as possible to get them organic.
On the other hand, the 15 produces that are considered the “cleanest” and that could be bought conventional are:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas
- Kiwi fruit
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet onions
The reason why some products are safer than others to eat when grown conventionally is because these products do not absorb as much chemicals and pesticides, and so are not passing as many toxics to us as the “dirty” ones do.
I hope you liked the information presented, and I hope it will be of help the next time you go grocery shopping.